Monday, August 30, 2010

I know, I know...

We're busy soaking up these last summer days and preparing for a new house mate and youth events and photo shoots... and well, I just haven't had much time to sit and blog. But you can bet I've taken lots of pictures. :) So, while I'm ready for bed after a really great day (busy, full, lots of cleaning!), I figured I could at least put some pictures up. Pretend there's lots of exciting details and clever captions accompanying them, okay? Maybe one day soon.. :)
(I also want to interject that my daughter chose her outfit and insisted on wearing it all afternoon. That was Corban's first frog experience, and..... man, my belly is getting big! Happy Monday!)
(Oh, btw, 22 weeks along in these pictures.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

my kids are cute.

It's my blog! I can say that... right? :)
Really though, I want you to read this quote, taken from this interview, of a photographer whose work I regularly admire. She's endured more heartache than I can imagine, but what she says here struck a cord deep within me...
Photography officially took my world by storm back in 2007 when my only sibling, my brother Gavin passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. I’d dabbled before then, but it was at that point, when I realized that these images were all we had left, that everything changed.  Every shot I took suddenly carried greater weight and significance and I became passionate about giving people that same gift of. . . well, of remembering for lack of a better word, so it was then that I entered the professional realm. When my son Gavin passed away earlier this year, I was reminded yet again of why I do what I do, and why it matters so very much to me that I do it well.
 Hmm. I hear her... loud and clear. What she said, coupled with the distraction from grieving, something to pour myself into, a creative outlet... and you've got a story that sounds a lot like mine.  
Regardless, my kids are cute, and today I found it necessary to document that. :)
And a nice little outtake for you...

Anyway. We survived today. And though it's 9 p.m., I've got a little cup of coffee (I just discovered my french press. It's love, friends...) waiting for me downstairs, and am going to spend the rest of the evening out on my porch swing, soaking in this beautiful, perfect Indiana weather.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

a year ago

Well... it's here. Envision a big, fat, heavy sigh and you've set the tone for this post.
It came all too quickly and I wish I could just turn off my calendar awareness sense, but I fear no such luck.
I wrote this post a year ago today. That day is incredibly vivid in my mind, as are the two that follow it. I was late getting to the splash pad because I sat in the church parking lot and sobbed on my husband; JD had tried to get out of bed and screamed out in the most terrible pain, unable to do so. Mom called the oncologist and Dr. Goodman scheduled an MRI for the next day.  She also said that she really believed he was relapsing.
The summer had been a brutal one- in and out of the hospital, grand-mal seizures, unexplainable symptoms, lots of pain... lots and lots of pain. But the scans were clean. Time after time they were clean. We held onto hope. Maybe it's a reaction to medicine? Chemo? Something? Anything... anything but cancer. But that day, Dr. Goodman voiced our greatest fear... and was absolutely correct.
The following morning was his spinal MRI. We knew the results before she said a word- you could see it all over her. My heart breaks afresh remembering the way JD bit his lip, fought tears, nodded his head, left the room. We all sat there speechless- afraid to ask questions... afraid to know the answers. We were told that day that there was nothing further they could do, that they'd exhausted the known options at that time. They said we'd look into clinical trials, see if there was anything available anywhere else. We refused to give up- We would've traveled to the moon if that's what it took. JD didn't want new doctors. He didn't want to travel out of state, didn't want to leave his school, his friends. There were no trials that offered anything beside brutal side effects, anyway.
We met the palliative care doctor. I had no idea at that time what she really was.... was blind to the fact that we were simply managing pain.
It was all a quick downward spiral from there. The significant dates from August 26th to October 9th are many. I don't know how to get through these next five weeks... I wish I could just fast forward through them. It's torturous to relive it, torturous to accept that it's been that long- that he's really been gone for this long. It's all just so hard, suddenly so fresh, my heart aching at my loss, breaking for my parents. I find myself all over the place with my emotions- wanting to retreat and hide, return to the hospital, be surrounded, be alone, be distracted. It feels almost like starting over- This is really real, this really happened. Not that I ever forget- it's just real all over again.

I don't want to sugarcoat any more of my grief. Sometimes it's really ugly and really hard. But I'm enduring... we're getting through this. I don't want to throw cheap words around, to say the things that I know are expected just because they're expected. I want to be real, and tonight, this is what real is. I am really really sad, and I miss my brother more than I could ever put into words. I've got to be honest and say that I've often neglected to turn to the Lord in my time of heartache- I've had a lot to work through this past year, a lot of crossroads... and I can say without a speck of doubt that God has met me where I am at, where I needed Him every single time. He's proven Himself faithful and good, ever-present, Love, time and time again. I'm holding on tightly to the verses the got me through a year ago today- and they're still comforting my heart even now. Rest in Him, my friends... the only place comfort is found.

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness!"

(lamentations 3:22-23)

Monday, August 23, 2010


Did you read my post yesterday, where I said reference me to this next time....

Yeah, well... next time was today.

The last hour- just since nap time has been over, I've cleaned up smeared eyeshadow from my just mopped kitchen floor (I was under the table scrubbing the other half of the room), a full bottle of water dumped on my couch, a bag of chips spread all over the carpet (I had been eating the chips and drinking the water, and was sitting on the couch with the kids. They did this right in front of me), and now peanut butter from Corban's mattress (They were playing in his room while I got dressed).
These kids are just stinking fast! I was right here with them when all of this happened. Man.

Anyway, now... they're both BACK in their beds.
And I'm frustrated and tired.

Who wants to come be my live-in maid?


Sunday, August 22, 2010

sweet baby Cate

I know, I know... I've been a little picture heavy over here recently. Stick with me, though. I'm trying to learn how to balance my home, my kids, ministry, starting a small business... I've done terribly with my time management and additionally have been absolutely exhausted. I'll get this all figured out one day.
And then I'll throw another baby in the mix....
Moving on....
I suddenly looked at the calendar, and my baby girl is 19 months old.
Closer to 2 than she is to 1.
Speaking sentences.
Potty training.
Asserting that strong-will every time I turn around.
Guys, this little girl of mine... she's amazing. Oh, she's hard, getting harder by the minute- has more energy and curiousity than the best of them, but she's tender and sweet and loves, loves, loves. She wraps her little hand around my arm and lays her head on my shoulder as she tells me she 'wuvs' me, and I melt. She's passionate about eating and fiercly attached to her blankies and paci. She loves routine and shoes of every color. She speaks in third person and always wants to 'See Cate pretty' after I fix her hair. She's got a fascination for babies and is very much a Mama's girl. 
I love everything about her, can't get enough of her. I love her love of life, just like her brothers.
I'm so thankful every single day to be Mama.
So thankful for my wonderful kids.
So thankful that God created them just the way they are.
And to think- we get to do it again!
So so blessed.

(Refer me to this post next time you hear me mention how frustrated I am with the cereal dumped or eggs smashed on the floor [Cate now picks the lock on the fridge], hand sanitizer smeared all over the kitchen or concealer painting Cate's face. And in case you're wondering, all of that was split between two mornings this week. MmHmm. Love being Mama. Just wish I could afford a maid. ha!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

iheartfaces 'Got To Wear Shades' (Week 33)

I visit iheartfaces weekly- a wonderful website FULL of helpful photography tips and info- but have never entered a contest of theirs. When I saw this weeks theme, though, I couldn't pass up a chance to showcase one of my all-time favorite pictures of my Caters. My baby girl on the fourth of July, full of curls and sass. :)

Head on over to iheartfaces to see other 'shades' pictures and check out the other amazing resources available!

a big week

In picture review form, that is.
Our kids experienced their first ever horse back rides...
mastered looking cute in cowboy hats,
posed perfectly for pictures,
experienced their first MLB game
soaked in every single detail...
played at the splash pad...
and partook of some delicious midsummer harvest.

It was a good week, indeed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

oh baby!

I went a few days early for my 20 week ultrasound this morning.
Insert a huge sigh of relief.
Our baby looked perfect, everything looked exactly as it should.
It's measured a few days ahead for most of this pregnancy, but today was measuring identical to its due date.
Maybe I won't have a 10 lb baby after all?
Regardless, I'm praising God for the life growing wonderfully inside of me.

Everything about this one has been SO different from its siblings... no puking, for starters. With both Corban and Cate, I still had another month of toilet-hugging to go at this point. I felt movement a couple weeks sooner with both of them, and they were much more active in utero than this one is at this point. My weight gain started off more quickly this time around (I'm sure due to the ability to eat and keep food down), but has tapered off and I've gained the exact amount I had at 20 weeks when pregnant with Cate (which is 8 lbs, in case you're wondering). It's crazy how the first two were identical, and this one is so so different.
I can now understand why people enjoy pregnancy. :)
 (this pic was taken a week ago, 18.5 weeks)
That's a joke. Sort of. I loved it...from about 23 weeks to 30 weeks, but the other 33 weeks were pretty miserable the first two times. This time... easy peasy. Truthfully- I think it's an answer to prayer. I had been saying for months that I didn't even want to start to think about getting pregnant until summer was over with. I felt like I had missed out on so much of the kids the fall and winter, and I wanted summer to just enjoy them, to be more than just physically present, and I knew pregnancy would not allow for that.
Well... God had other plans. Surprise! I'm pregnant, and convinced that something is wrong because I just feel good. That can't be right, huh?! My husband prayed for me the day that we found out that I wouldn't be so sick, so that I could love on our kiddos and enjoy being with them... I think God's honored that- and I am SO thankful.
I didn't cave today. I still don't know the gender of this baby. It's gonna be a long 20 weeks, my friends. I am SO stinkin' curious. I thought boy at first, and then I was convinced it was a girl, and now I'm back to thinking boy... goodness. It'd make this naming process a lot easier if I were just needing to settle on one.. but no such luck. We're really really REALLY stumped in the boy name department. Any suggestions?!?!? Requirements are that it can't start with a 'C' and has to sound good with James for a middle name. Also, preferably not top 100 and can't be a name of any of the millions of people we know. Easy as pie, right? ha! I have a name that I love, but we've got friends with an older child with the same name... and Jordan's not sold on it, either. So, I don't want to have an awkward conversation for no reason, you know? My list is pretty much nada.
Welp, my dishes aren't going to wash themselves, so I better go. We're heading to Cleveland tomorrow with my big brother to take Corban to his first MLB game! Looking forward to it!! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the rest

56. I ate Chinese food for lunch, Mexican for dinner, and icecream for dessert. Yikes.
57. I laughed a lot and visited with a lot of people I love.
58. I finally got to talk to my husband this morning, and I am SO ready for him to be home.
59.Tomorrow, I get to take pictures of a 10 month old, and the next day, a whole bunch of cousins of varying ages with their grandparents.
60. I forgot to pack dress clothes of any sort and only have a pair of flip flops with me. Oops. I also forgot my spare battery and charger, so I'm praying this battery goes a loooooong way.
61. It was a million degrees outside and about 99 percent humidity. I stayed in the a/c most of it.
62.I'm about 19 weeks pregnant. That's nearly half way done cooking this child. Crazy.
63. I still have about zero names on my boy list. About to start taking suggestions...
64. Our house isn't being bulldozed.
65. We're (hopefully) creating a mini 4th bedroom by knocking out a wall between closets that back up to eachother.
66. I'm 24.5 years old and am just now getting my wisdom teeth. I can now empathize with my children in their teething pain.
67. I think telling someone that their children are a handful is one of the least kind things you could tell a mother. Just sayin'.
68. Corban just told Page that we should name a baby boy Zach. We don't even know a Zach.
69. My son also said the following today, while reading the bible with his Uncle Isaac: He turned the page to 1 Corinthians 11 and said, "It says right here- Jesus is alive, and He wants to eat peanuts!"
70. There are so many things I see in my little boy that I see in his Daddy- and I'm more grateful for that than you could ever imagine.
71. My 5 year wedding anniversary is next week. Seems like forever but just a few minutes all at the same time. I'm more in love now than ever before... and that's a darn good thing.
72. I like coffee again. And diet coke sometimes. But mostly, I want ice water around the clock.
73. One day, I WILL own a fridge with an ice maker.
74. I wish I had linen sheers and matchstick bamboo shades for every room in my house.
75. I want to everyday be thankful for the way God created my children- their energy and curiousity, their love of life. I don't want for one second to wish any of the things that make them them away.
76. Corban and Cate were mistaken for twins for the first time this week! They were in the stroller, so I could see how one may think that. This tells me that my baby girl is seriously growing up.
77. I love to wear socks. And I almost always sleep in them.
78. I think this baby will be very different from its siblings. Everything about this pregnancy has been different. And it's much less active in utero than either Corban or Cate were.
79. I bought over $300 worth of clothing for our family from Old Navy for only $60 this week.
80. I got a new skirt and a scarf for myself in the mix of all that.
81. I wear skirts almost everyday... I'm in that wierd in between stage, where normal pants are getting too tight and maternity stuff is too big.
82.But I do finally have a belly that looks pregnant! I love this stage, where you feel good and don't yet feel humungous.
83. I don't think spell check is on on this computer... forgive the mistakes. I'm too lazy to proof read right now.
84. We're going to a Cleveland Indians game with my brother next week. Very excited - and can't wait to see how Corban reacts.
85. I'm getting so close to having my photography website ready. It excites me and scares me all at the same time...
86. Can I just stop at 86? I don't really have anything else to talk about. SO I think I'll stop. Thus concludes my random about me posts. Adios!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

this side of grief

My head is exploding with thoughts on so many different things...and I don't even know where to start. I can't help but notice the gaping hole as I spend days at my parents house. How can it be? 10 months gone from this earth, almost 11 gone from this house. It's not possible, can't be right. Wasn't it just yesterday that I'd sneak into his dark room and ask if he was sure he didn't want an ice cream sandwich, sure he didn't need more pain medicine? He was much gentler with his response to me than most other people... always good to Sissy.
I remember the day that we discovered he had a tumor as though it was yesterday. I remember the events leading up to it, the phone call so vividly. I remember dropping to me knees and emptying the contents of my stomach after hanging up with mom. I needed to be home that moment, but was convinced to make the drive to the hospital in the morning instead. I remember walking into Dr. Young's office for the first time and JD greeting me with a giant smile, asking if I knew he had something growing on his brain, informing me that he'd soon be smarter than the rest of us. He was more right than I could have ever imagined.
It's been ten months, yes... but the memories are so fresh, the wound far from healed. I won't speak for everyone- for anyone other than myself, really, but I want to talk a little bit about grief... from this side of things. This is only my story, my perspective, my heartbreak, my healing. I don't know what is normal- I just know what it has been like for me.
I can't imagine it being much harder than this first year has been. Truth is- I cannot remember much of anything from October to March. Other than what is written on my blog and the pictures I've taken, I have few memories of those 5 months. I didn't know what was normal, what was expected, what was just sadness, when I crossed that line into depression- but at some point, it was crossed. It was a chore to get out of bed every morning. My children were an interruption to my sleep, to my quiet, to my sorrow. I found joy in little. I had people all around, but had never felt more alone. I craved closeness, but had nothing to give. I thought I was okay, that this was just grief. I don't know- maybe it is, maybe depression and grieving go hand and hand, but I was heartbroken to a point of barely surviving, of going through the motions at best.
I don't know what happened, what clicked, but I remember driving downtown, sobbing on the phone with Jordan confessing that I wasn't okay, that I felt so far from okay. He listened, didn't push, told me we would do whatever I needed to do. I guess for me, a corner was turned on just realizing that I wasn't okay, that I couldn't handle trying to get through it on my own any longer. From there, I finally began to talk. Sure, I'd discussed the details surrounding JD's death continually. Sometimes there would be tears, but more often, I was stoic. I'd answer that it was harder than I had ever imagined it being, but that was as deep as I would go. There was a tremendous freedom in finally sharing, and I finally began to see that I wasn't alone. I didn't have anyone who had been in my shoes, but I had a lot of people who loved me, who would cry with me, pray with me, listen to me... and that was what I needed. I think wintertime only compounded everything I was feeling- the gloomy, grey, cold, long days. It seemed to me that March 1st held promise... spring would come. Refreshing would come. Light would come. There was hope of smiling again.
The sunshine really was good for me. I don't know what it was, but it was a new day come springtime. Oh, the hurt was (is) far from over, but I think I finally began to live again starting in March. There's been a lot of two steps forward, one step back since then, but the darkest days I've endured are a chapter that I have closed, and I praise God for that. I'm not going to pretend that there aren't still days where I feel like the grief could swallow me whole, but they come less frequently than they once did. JD being gone will never be an easy thing. There will always be days, smells, things that trigger a memory so strong and a hurt so great, I'm sure of it. There are some things that I know and expect to be difficult, but I've been shocked by what has caught me off guard, brought tears before I knew why I was crying. Corban having a birthday hadn't even crossed my mind as being a difficult day to get through, but I thought so many times about our prior celebrations and all that JD was in them... My heart broke all over again realizing my baby boy is without his uncle whom he loved so much.
Most days, I am okay. It's never far from my mind, and tears still come quick and easy-- but now the smiles come, too. I know I was carried through those dark winter months... if not for the Lord, I don't know where I'd be. If not for those precious babies of mine, I don't know that I would've left the bed. God knew what He was doing when He gave us those children when He did - I'm more sure of that now than I've ever been. I found an old journal from the time that JD was going through radiation, and I had this inscribed on the top of several pages- lyrics to a song I no longer remember, but words that rang so true in my heart then, and even more so now:
The only thing worth holding on to
      is holding onto me...

 I didn't have the strength to do much more than get through the days, but God saw me through... and here we are. I'm a different person than I once was. I hope to soon write about the journey that this has been for my faith- the many ups and downs that have come... it's been a rocky road. But through it all, the conclusion I've come to over and over and over is that God is good and He is faithful. Even when I couldn't hold on, He was carrying me. He hasn't left me yet...